Picking up right where he left off at this very same track last year, Jett Lawrence walked out of Fox Raceway on Saturday with the winner’s trophy. But unlike last year, Lawrence still has the whole season ahead of him and now holds the championship lead in the 250 Class in just his second full year of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. The win seemed to be an emotional one for Lawrence and his usual upbeat demeanor was on full display once the dust had settled. We had a chance to catch up with Saturday’s big winner via Zoom a few hours after the race.
Racer X: Jett, big day for you. Started off fastest in practice. I think that kind of set the tone. You kind of know where you’re at, where you want to be. I know you did mention that anybody can do one fast lap, but you backed it up. You didn’t get a great start in the first moto, but you battled through the field, carved through the pack, got up there at the end, made a run. Even got a little run on Jeremy there to close the gap good. Second moto got the start you needed. Went to work and ended up pulling out the win. Is it the track? Do you just love Pala? Is this your spot? What’s the special magic with this track and are you just feeling like this is your step to becoming that legit title contender and being there every week for the rest of the season?
Jett Lawrence: My day went pretty smoothly in practice, like you said, going P1. I also said anyone can do a fast lap, so it didn’t really mean too much. But first moto I didn’t give myself very good hopes of a podium at least. I ended up carving my way through into third and then Vohland had some bad luck with a bike malfunction, so I ended up going to second. I could still see Jeremy up there. I kind of put up a little bit of a charge but I didn’t want to overdo it and make a silly mistake like I feel like I would used to. I would probably go and send it and end up weeding myself. I just kind of kept my same pace and I ended up closing the gap a little bit. I’m like, that’s good to know where he’s at, where I’m at. Then going into the second moto I was kind of hoping to get a better start or at least be in the top ten because I know can charge my way to the front after that first moto. Sure enough, I think I was in eighth or something. Made my way through into third. It took me a while to kind of figure out what the two Star boys were doing up front. They were both really on it. I couldn’t get close enough at first to kind of read where their lines were and study them a little bit. J-Mart ended up making a little mistake in one spot, so I was able to kind of capitalize on that and get close enough to kind of watch what he’s doing, because obviously he has the most experience out of everyone in the class right now so it’s good to learn from him. I ended up getting the pass done a few laps after that which was really good. Then I kind of set my eyes straight onto [Justin] Cooper and caught him fairly quick, thankfully. I think he might have made a mistake. Then I ended up get the pass done on the same lap as I got J-Mart, which is really good. Pala is a good track. It was really square-edged and technical today, so I feel like it kind of helped me a little bit. Today I just felt really good. I feel like if it was at any other track, it would have been the same. I just felt really good on the track and felt really strong because I’ve been putting the work in. I’m glad to see that’s actually paying off so I can’t wait for next weekend to hopefully maybe do something similar.
In that first moto when you were as far back as you were, do you look over ahead on the track and say, this is more or less a position I want to get up to? Or are you just taking it one rider at a time that entire time as you’re going through the field?
I obviously look up a little bit just to kind of judge if I’m losing time or gaining time with going through some other riders and making some passes. I try to stay fairly present and just kind of look at if I get this person, how much time do I make up or how much time do I lose? Whatever the situation is, it changes. I’ll look up in certain spots like, hey, the leaders are there. Then I’ll put my head down and where I end up. Keep charging for another few laps and then I’ll check again. Okay, I’ve closed the gap, or crap, I’ve lost some time. I got to make that back up. I try to stay fairly present and every now and then I’ll just look up to kind of check where the leaders are.
You said in the press conference and on the podium that you’re trying to show people that you work hard, you’re not just a kid with talent. Can you talk about that? Is that something you’re hearing and you’re trying to correct? Why do you keep hitting that point?
I wanted to get the point out there because I am so young. I definitely feel like I’m very lucky of my gift right now and how I can ride a bike. I feel like most people see me as just a kid with talent, more like a James Stewart. He came in with heaps of talent and that stuff, but I want to show that I don’t just ride my bike and not train. I put in the work, as you guys see. I’ve got a trainer, Johnny O’Mara. J-Mart will understand also that he’s a gnarly man. He still puts a whooping on us on a mountain bike. I just want people to know that I’m not a slouch. I just don’t go and ride my bike and show up to the weekend and wish for the best. I put the time in, and I make sure I do so I can get results like this on the weekend.
Watching at the end of the race there you were quite emotional with that victory. You’ve won an outdoor overall before, but just explain to us that emotion and why it came out. Run us through what was going through your head at that point in time.
I think everything just hit me at once, kind of all the hard work that I’ve been putting in and just all the training we’ve been doing. It’s what we work for mainly is to go out and get good results and hopefully come away with the red plate. It didn’t hit me until I hit the finish line, which was really cool because I’ve been working my butt off to try and get that. It’s cool to finally have that. Now Hunter can’t give me crap at all about how he had the red plate in supercross, so I got him back there. It’s just a good feeling. Hopefully, I can keep it for the rest of the season, but I know J-Mart and the boys are going to make it hard for me this season, but I’m going to make sure I stay on my toes and make sure I give it back to them.
When you look back and think of today, what moto for you was—obviously winning is what you’re there for, but that first one to come from 17th at the end of lap one all the way through onto the podium. When you look back, was that just as important as that second moto victory?
That first moto was a good kind of sign of relief, I could say. I came from way back and pulled them all in. I think I was 16 seconds down from [Max] Vohland at one stage when he was leading. It just kind of took not pressure off, but it just kind of enlightened me a little bit that I was able to come back and catch all of them, even J-Mart. In that second one I just knew if I could get a good start, I feel like I could win this if I get a good start. Sure enough, I got a decent start, and I was able to do that. I feel like that first race was special because it just gave me that confidence going into the second one going, I can win this next one if I get a decent start.
Just before you just said having the red plate for the next round, as we know, people say all the time the red plate can get heavy, things can happen. Coming from today’s race, what are the things you need to change, or you need to work on during this week to make sure next weekend is just as much as a success as this one?
Nothing really. I’ve just got to keep it the same. If you change something when you’re doing good, I don’t understand why you would. If something’s not broken, why would you try and fix it? So, I’m just going to keep doing the same thing that I’ve been doing all these last few weeks going into this. Just stay on the ground and not get too big-headed, I would say, and make sure it doesn’t get too much weight on my shoulders with the red plate. It’s the same bike, just with some red backgrounds. It doesn’t really matter much right now. It just matters at the end of the season if you still have it at the last round.
Below is the full post-race 250 Class press conference:
Or listen to the press conference in the embed below (250 Class starts at 0:00 and 450 Class starts at 25:54).